How Small Businesses Can Manage Service Delays and Staffing Issues

The more business owners work to boost their presence, the easier it becomes to retain loyal customers and boost local market share.

By Jonathan Brooks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As the country starts to open back up, small businesses across all industries are feeling the stress of having to deal with service delays and impatient customers. A large part of these service delays is due to the worker shortage. In fact, on May 11, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 8.1 million open jobs in the U.S. at the end of March, which was the highest it's been since they started tracking in 2000. However, as employers work to get the proper staffing, it's crucial to mitigate upset customers through making sure that your brand's digital presence and marketing efforts don't fall to the wayside.

One of the most important tips is to make sure that the business effectively communicates service delays to customers. Work to set realistic expectations from the start and let them know why their service might be delayed. Creating an open flow of communication helps customers not only build trust with a brand, but also lessens the chance that a customer leaves a negative review of the business online.

Related: Are You a Small Business Owner or an Entrepreneur?

Another factor to consider with service delays is that consumers are searching the internet more than ever to find alternatives. If someone comes across a company's name, one of the first things they will do is check its online reviews. In fact, 90% of buyers check a business's reviews before making a purchase. Check your brand's reviews daily and pay special attention to negative ones. It is critical to acknowledge these concerns and respond to every review.

One of the best ways for a business's reviews to show up is by making sure that all listings are up to date on platforms such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp and Bing. These listings not only help potential clients learn about hours, services and location, but it is also one of the best places to list company announcements. If none of these listings have been set up for a business, then it is most important to start with Google My Business (GMB). The GMB listing determines what information shows up on Google Maps and is usually the first to show up on a search engine.

Related: 5 Things Not to Do When You're Running a Small Business

The CDC is constantly updating its health and safety protocols regarding a return to normalcy. There is a lot of confusion and controversy over when to wear a mask or if vaccination for employees and customers is mandatory to receive a service. The best way to avoid any uncomfortable situation is to publicize the business's stance on masks and vaccines. From restaurant employees to HVAC technicians, let customers know if workers are required to wear masks or be vaccinated. Never assume how someone is going to feel, especially if the business is in an industry where the service requires employees to go on the customer's property.

While some industries slow down in the summertime, others pick up. For HVAC companies, the hot weather brings the biggest customer influx of the year. It's important for business owners to track trends on when they are at their busiest and slowest. If the business is starting to pick up, stay on top of notifying local customers about any potential delays. To get ahead of traffic, send out an email blast prior to the busy season encouraging the customer to schedule maintenance or check ups as soon as possible.

It's easy to become complacent in managing digital presence and handling marketing efforts for a business. However, the more business owners work to boost their presence, the easier it becomes to retain loyal customers and boost local market share.

Related: 9 Strategies to Boost Small-Business Profitability

Jonathan Brooks

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

President of Business Warrior

Jonathan Brooks is the president of Business Warrior, leading revenue growth and operations. With his leadership, Business Warrior successfully became public in 2020, tripled its subscriber base, launched two new versions of its software and recently improved 2021 Q2 revenue by over 220%.

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